Live Music Picks: Sept. 20-26 | Music Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Live Music Picks: Sept. 20-26 

Beck, Dying Fetus, Slothrust, and more

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THURSDAY 9/20
The Mattson 2, Astronauts, etc.

Both of these bands bring excellent new albums to town. Astronauts, etc.—helmed by Oakland artist Anthony Ferraro—recently released the sumptuous, sensual Living in Symbol, which combines electro-soul, R&B, chillwave and soft rock into a cohesive conceptual whole. Warped analog synthesizers and infectious bass lines abound, with touches of classic funk and romantic psych-pop punctuating songs like "The Room" and "Visitor." Meanwhile, cinematic jazz influences run throughout Living in Symbol, tying in with Astronauts, etc.'s tour mates, The Mattson 2. These identical California-born twins came up soundtracking surf films and touring the world, giving voice to the sun and the sea, but their latest project has wowed critics of all stripes: a full album cover of John Coltrane's 1964 masterpiece A Love Supreme. For some, the price of such reverence is steep, but Jonathan and Jared's approach started from a place of musicological theory, before elevating the iconic album to newly ecstatic heights. "What we brought to it was our backgrounds and our compositional style," Jonathan Mattson told Aquarium Drunkard last month. "Also our telepathy as twin brothers, our ability to jam and improvise together. It felt like we were channeling the piece." (Nick McGregor) The State Room, 638 S. State, 8 p.m., $15, 21+, thestateroom.com

click to enlarge Beck - ELIOT LEE HAZEL
  • Eliot Lee Hazel
  • Beck

SATURDAY 9/22
Beck, The Voidz

Beck Hansen—known simply as Beck—is one of the most stunningly versatile popular musicians of his generation. The genre chameleon first crashed the mainstream with his 1994 hit "Loser," which, like Radiohead's "Creep," owed far more to the slacker aesthetic of grunge than anything Beck produced afterward. Any notion of him being a one-hit wonder was demolished by 1996's superbly weird folk/hip-hop opus Odelay, which went double-platinum on the strength of singles "Where It's At," "Devils Haircut" and "The New Pollution." He became famous for an avant-garde production style and absurdist lyrical non-sequiturs like this gem from "Hot Wax," a ramshackle Odelay jam: "Silver foxes looking for romance/ In the chain smoke Kansas flash dance ass pants." Sure, dude. What followed was really whatever Beck was feeling that very second—Brazilian tropicália (Mutations), achingly beautiful chamber-folk (Sea Change), spastic disco-funk (Midnite Vultures), guitars battling turntables (Guero) and dystopian electro-psych (The Information). Some hardcore Beck fans lament the fact that he's gone down a more commercially polished and conventional route over the past decade. Three consecutive records—Modern Guilt (2008), Morning Phase (2014) and Colors (2017)—more or less follow popular trends rather than bending them over and freak-dancing with them. But if anyone is capable of successfully orchestrating a late-career return to unsexy funk, awkward white-boy rapping and getting "crazy with the cheese whiz," it's Beck. (Howard Hardee) Maverik Center, 3200 Decker Lake Drive, 7:30 p.m., $39.50-$69.50, all ages, maverikcenter.com

click to enlarge Iron & Wine - KIM BLACK
  • Kim Black
  • Iron & Wine

SUNDAY 9/23
Iron & Wine, Erin Rae

Over the years, former academic Sam Beam has expanded his musical trajectory from humble origins as a one-man initiative to that of a world-renowned indie-folk operative. The hushed, contemplative sound that's always been key to Iron & Wine's approach remains constant, but with fame and awareness, Beam now has the benefit of both a full band and a respected label to help inform his intents. His meditative musings—a blend of assurance and uncertainty—create a potent dynamic, even while requiring his audiences to lean in and listen. Iron & Wine's recent EP Weed Garden (Sub Pop) is as subdued as ever, but again, the music is mesmerizing throughout. That said, if your rowdier friends want to join you at this show, you're best advised to keep them at bay. After all, Beam's melodies are prone to intimacy, introspection and a sound so supple and sublime that full attention is definitely needed. Quiet and calm—not flash and frenzy—dominate Beam's performances. So for anyone prone to rock, maybe suggest they just roll with it instead. (Lee Zimmerman) Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 7:30 p.m. $25-$50, all ages, artsaltlake.org

click to enlarge Slothrust - DANNY LANE
  • Danny Lane
  • Slothrust

MONDAY 9/24
Slothrust, Summer Cannibals

Slothrust's angular sound is stirred by a punk-like, screw-it-all attitude that defies description as it veers from manic to mellow. Steered by singer/songwriter, guitarist and principal vocalist Leah Wellbaum, along with drummer Will Gorin and bassist Kyle Bann, the Boston-based band has recorded four albums—including their latest, The Pact—while earning ample praise along the way. Wellbaum and Gorin met as students at Sarah Lawrence College, and found common musical ground by melding blues, jazz and indie rock with something more unsettling. After recruiting Bann, they chose the handle Slothrust by pairing the name of Wellbaum's previous outfit, Slothbox, with their fascination with the decaying passage of time. So while Slothrust's moniker suggests an early '70s British heavy metal band, their sound has evolved from early insurgence to a more nuanced approach flush with emotion and intrigue. They achieved some measure of awareness early on when their song "7:30 AM," the lead single from debut album Feels Your Pain, was adopted as the theme song for FX TV series You're the Worst. But old-timers also have given Slothrust credit for covering the Turtles' serendipitous single "Happy Together." After all, it's rare to find a decidedly post-modern ensemble happy to reinterpret past precedent. (LZ) The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 8 p.m., $13 presale; $15 day of show; 21+, theurbanlougeslc.com

click to enlarge Dying Fetus - ROBBIE CLARK
  • Robbie Clark
  • Dying Fetus

WEDNESDAY 9/26
Dying Fetus, Incantation, Gatecreeper, Genocide Pact, Dezecration

Extreme music has matured from its early days in the '80s to the diverse subculture that it is today. But in 1991, John Gallagher and Jason Netherton birthed the most brutal, most technical death metal band around with an equally offensive name: Dying Fetus. Self-releasing and promoting their 1995 debut, Infatuation With Malevolence, Dying Fetus then became famous with 2003's "One Shot One Kill," which, during my time in the service, was the Marine Corps' unofficial anthem. Today, these Maryland death-metal veterans stick to the basics, keeping up their confrontational chops on their latest record, The Wrong One to Fuck With. It hasn't been all peaches for Dying Fetus, who have caught flak from "outsiders" that don't care for the band's name or its supposedly non-kid-friendly music. To that I say, check out a DF show (or any metal show, for that matter) and you might find a loving parent next to their little one keeping the legacy of family headbanging alive. Arguably one of the best interviews ever conducted with Dying Fetus came last year from "Little Punk People's" Elliott Fullam, a kid who loves metal and punk rock. DF vocalist and ax man Gallagher has also made time to shred in the past with students of THOR (Tomato's House of Rock), a music program for teenage musicians started by Chris "Tomato" Harfenist of Sound of Urchin. So the age-old expression applies in this case: Don't judge a book by its cover—or a band by its album cover. (Rachelle Fernandez) Metro Music Hall, 615 W. 100 South, 6 p.m., $20 presale; $22 day of show, 21+, metromusichall.com

click to enlarge J Balvin - ORLI ARIAS
  • Orli Arias
  • J Balvin

WEDNESDAY 9/26
J Balvin, Mr. Eazi, Michael Brun

While he specializes in a mainstream version of reggaeton pop, Colombian artist J Balvin transcends easy categorization. Last summer, his smash hit "Mi Gente" entered the Top Ten of Billboard's Hot 100, joining Daddy Yankee's "Despacito" to make history as the first two non-English-language tracks to concurrently chart so high. Balvin even won a Guinness World Record for the longest No. 1 run by a solo Latin single. But this is a man driven by more than superstardom. He's devoted himself to charitable causes, convincing Beyoncé to donate the proceeds of her "Mi Gente" remix to disaster relief in Mexico and Puerto Rico. He's gotten political, delivering a choice expletive to Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro on Instagram in March. And he's devoted himself to high fashion, serving as an international ambassador at February's New York Fashion Week but waiting until July to debut his own vibrant line at home in Medellín. Even more important, Balvin has leveraged his success to widen the scope of global pop, adding Nigerian Afrobeat star Mr. Eazi and Haitian producer Michael Brun to his current tour in support of this year's album Vibras. As Balvin told Billboard in May, "I like to make super music instead of working with superstars." (Nick McGregor) Vivint Smart Home Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 8 p.m., $36-$347, all ages, vivintarena.com

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Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman

Bio:
An accomplished writer, blogger and reviewer, Zimmerman contributes to several local and national publications, including No Depression, Paste, Relix and Goldmine. The music obsessive says he owns too many albums to count and numerous instruments he’s yet to learn.

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